It takes right around four minutes to get from my driveway to the shopping plaza at the bottom of the hill.
I know this because I can play one full song during that time, and in this case, the final notes of Josh Groban’s “Angels” — a stirring cover of Robbie Williams’ hit and a rare instance where the original and its cover are both terrific — play as I pull into the parking lot.
I’m not going to say I provide accompaniment that can only be safely heard by me, alone, in my car … but I’m not going to say I don’t.
Suzi usually handles the grocery shopping, but we need a few things, so I say I’ll go after lunch.
It’s a way to get out of the house for at least a little while, since the colder, snowier weather (although, all things being relative, weather that people in Texas would probably give anything for right now) have put a damper on our walking lately. Heck, it was a treat to get a little fresh air yesterday by bringing in the garbage cans and grabbing the mail.
Normally I pick up the pizza for our Thursday-night activities, but since there’s snow in the forecast, Suzi bought stuff to make pizza at home, so it’s my best shot to see the world beyond the street in front of my house or out the back window.
I can’t say for certain, but the parking lot seems more full than it should be at 1 p.m. on a Thursday. Is it because the forecast is causing people to grab some last-minute groceries … or perhaps booze, since there’s a liquor store in the same plaza?
The store seems oddly quiet. Even the music isn’t very loud.
Not that grocery stores are typically raucous places, but it feels like there’s more of a “get your stuff and get out” vibe.
I’m there for milk, cat food and the crispbread that I eat with peanut butter for my afternoon snack. The milk and cat food are easy to find, but I can never remember exactly what aisle the crispbread is in. Is it with the cookies or the chips? Or are the cookies and the chips in the same aisle, and if so, is the crispbread with them or not?
Needless to say, I look down a couple aisles before finding them, walking the length of the first aisle, even after I realize it’s the wrong one, and then all of the correct aisle once I do spot them, in order to not walk against the arrows on the floor.
I view the arrows the same way I view the circles near the registers reminding customers to stay six feet apart. Sure, they’re a mild inconvenience, but you deal with it.
There’s plenty of dry cat food in the house, but Sasha has to have her can of food every night at 10 — any earlier, and she’ll wake up Suzi in the middle of the night wanting to be fed, and unlike me, Suzi won’t roll over and ignore her — and the three cans left in the house would run out before Suzi went grocery shopping again.
Given there aren’t a lot of cases of her Fancy Feast on the shelf and the “manufacturing issues,” it looks like I get there just in time.
Cat food isn’t something I’d imagine running out of, but apparently supply, demand, the pandemic and weather are all conspiring to create shortages. There’s a similar problem with Grape-Nuts, which Suzi likes to eat for breakfast but I find disgusting.
I do not check the status of the toilet paper.
Whatever the issue with the cat food is, I hope they find a solution in the next 27 days.
Our gym is toward the end of the plaza, and even though it has been open for months, we haven’t gone since the pandemic started, even though we’ve kept up our membership.
My exercise class instructor Jamie says between the rules — including a 10-person limit and people wearing masks the whole time — constant cleaning and an hour-long shutdown each day for a deep clean, she thinks the gym is safe, and while I don’t doubt her or the gym’s efforts, going to the gym is an indoor activity that doesn’t quite make the cut right now.
At the very end of the plaza is a pizza place that’s in our regular rotation, and beyond that is an area that’s part parking, part place for 18-wheelers to come and go for deliveries.
It’s also where our class met Monday nights last summer after Jamie got permission to carve out a space. One night, someone was situated in my usual spot on the right of the front row when I showed up, but moved when she saw me. I’m not a jerk about it — I would have just gone somewhere else if she stayed — but as a class original, that being my spot is something everyone understands.
We had to wear masks unless we were exercising, stay at cones Jamie set up 16 feet apart and make sure we were all moving in the same direction so as to not violate the distancing requirements.
In the end, it wasn’t the rules, nor the occasional tense moment with truck drivers who didn’t think they could get around us (there was more than enough room), but the twin uncontrollable problems of mosquitoes and earlier sunsets that forced us back to the virtual indoor classes from whence we came.
Maybe, when the weather gets better, we’ll have class out there again.
Maybe we’ll get back in the gym before too much longer.
Maybe … we’ll just be back.